Booze Review

Whisky Review – Nikka Whisky From The Barrel


About four weeks ago, I received an invitation from Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast to help him out with a new project that he is undertaking (more about this in a future post). At the end of my visit, Mark asked me if I’d like a whisky sample to take home. Since the Booze Dancers have had a growing fascination with Japanese whisky, I picked a sample of the Nikka Whisky From The Barrel as my “parting gift”.

Although WhiskyCast recently reported that Nikka has applied to the US government for permission to distribute their whiskies throughout the United States, this process could take a really long time (can you say red tape?). Since patience is not one of my strong suits, I jumped on this golden opportunity to get my hands on
some Nikka (FYI, the easiest way to get your hands on this whisky is through Master of Malt and a few other UK retailers).

Here is a bit more information about this whisky from Nikka:

“Matured malt whisky and grain whisky are blended and then re-casked (a process known as “marriage”) to create a rich harmony of distinctly different whiskies. “From the Barrel” is bottled directly from re-casked barrels of whisky and features almost the same alcohol percentage. At 51.4% alcohol content, this whisky possesses a distinctive personality characterized by solidity, depth of taste and a richly expanding aroma.”

Let’s see if this whisky was worth the wait…

  • Color: Deep honey/amber color. Looks quite viscous. Slow moving legs form after giving it a swirl.
  • Aroma: Alcohol vapors are quite intense. After letting it open up a bit, I detected toffee, raisins, sherry, cinnamon, honey, and vanilla. Adding a few drops of water brings out a hint of smoke and some floral notes.
  • Taste: Has a slightly syrupy mouthfeel. That first taste tingles the tip of your tongue. A bit of sweetness in the beginning, followed by lots of spice and warmth at mid-palate. The finish is quite spicy and lingers for a really long time. A deep inhale brings out some pipe tobacco notes. Leaves your mouth quite dry.
  • ABV: 51.4%

In the words of the immortal Limpd, “Me likey whisky!”. Nikka Whisky From The Barrel is a fabulous Japanese whisky that definitely lives up to the hype. Big, bold, and incredibly flavorful, this is a whisky that is meant to be savored. It is also a great value (relatively speaking of course). A 50cl bottle (about 16 ounces) will set you back £25.99 (about $43) at Master of Malt. You owe it to yourself to try this whisky.

Thanks again to Mark Gillespie for this very generous sample.

19 replies »

  1. Yay G-LO! I have been waiting to read your review of this! So glad you liked it. I couldn’t get past the interesting mouthfeel (in fact, the first time I had it I asked for a new glass b/c I didn’t believe that texture was all from the whisky – which it was – and I was hooked) … and then there are the flavors. Such a great whisky. Keep us posted on what you and Mark are doing! – WW

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    • Of course there is one problem with finding yet another great whisky maker. This just makes me want to try more of their expressions! The journey never ends. Ain’t it grand?

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      • Why do you think I started my business?! When I travel abroad, I can’t get enough of these other whiskies and have always been so frustrated that we were missing out! Working to change all of that …. 😉

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      • Ahhh! That sounds like a brilliant business model (you should use “Me likey Whisky!” as your slogan). We’ll be keeping an eye on your progress! And if you need any Philly/South Jersey brand ambassadors, you know where to find us. We accept liquid gold as payment.

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  2. I don’t think that slogan even needs to be translated into other languages, it’s totally universal! Love it! And you better watch what you say, I just may take you up on that … when FedEx arrives with a full case or two, you know what to do! 🙂

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    • Sadly, I can’t take the credit for “Me Likey Whisky!”. It’s all Limpd. Quite hilarious to hear him say it after several fine drams. Yes… I said several!

      And as far as our Brand Ambassadorship, you had us at “when FedEx arrives with a full case or two…”! 😀

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  3. Interesting stuff ….

    I got my first taste of this last night. Since I was away most of the summer my man G-lo saved me a wee dram and all I can say is Thank You! This is an interesting whisky.

    At first I tried it straight, cask strength: It was spicy and slightly sweet and freaking potent. At cask strength it was almost undrinkable it was so potent.

    Next I added a little water and performed a magic trick. Unlike G-lo, I am a firm believer that adding a little cool water to whisky improves the taste. This stuff proves by belief. Adding about 25% water to the mix killed the harsh alcohol taste and brought forth more subtle flavors and aromas making this a highly drinkable spirit.

    To wrap up the experience I finished the session with a comparison taste from my bottle of Yamaski 12. The two are very different except in the Japanese precision employed to balance all the flavors. That seems to be the hallmark of whiskys from the land of the rising sun.

    If you can get you hands on this one I recommend you give it a try.

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    • Yo Wookie! First… welcome back. Second… I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the Nikka (you make some expressive drinking faces, but I never know if they’re “WOW! I like it!” or “Oh good god! That was AWFUL!”) . It’s a wonderfully complex and potent whisky from our Japanese friends. I definitely want to try more. The only question is, which one do I buy? Decisions, decisions.

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  4. Any updated info on where Nikka stands with getting US distribution? I can’t find any online retailers that can ship their stuff to the US for a reasonable cost.

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